How to Date after the Divorce
Seven Tips to Consider as You Begin to Date Again
You thought you were done with dating the minute you walked down the aisle…until your divorce. Now dating, once exciting before your marriage, can seem an intimidating way to begin your search for a new soulmate.
According to the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, “nearly 50 percent of 18-year olds go out at least once a week, compared with only approximately 25 percent of 32-year olds.” “Dating is different — depending on your age,” said Lindsay Novak, a psychotherapist in Omaha, Neb. “It’s going to be different for the 25-year old getting divorced from a five-month marriage versus the 60-year old married for 25 years,” she said.
Experts suggest anyone who is newly divorced consider these dating tips:
1. Before searching for a new partner, examine the lessons from their marriage:
“What you did like about the person? What didn’t you like about the person? It’s basically grieving about the first marriage and learning what you found,” said Novak.
2. Correct past mistakes so history doesn’t repeat.
“What most people don’t realize is that they bring insecurities in the relationship… When those emotional needs are no longer being met by the spouse, conflict arises over time, because each spouse is looking to each other to fulfill their emotional needs that they don’t know how to fill themselves,” said Mike Burckhard, a social worker in Minot, N.D. “This results in long term emotional chaos, often leading to divorce. The problem resurfaces in the next relationship”, he said. “…The divorced spouse’s solution is then to get into another relationship for the same reason — to influence that person to meet his or her own emotional needs that he or she doesn’t know how to meet himself or herself — that results in the pattern starting all over again,” he said.
3. Improve your relationship with yourself before dating.
“I suggest most people who divorce do not take the necessary time to make the changes in improving their relationship with themselves. Humans have a relationship with themselves. All humans do,” Burckhard said.”If it’s a high quality, this person going into a relationship with another human being isn’t going to be so needy.”
4. Make certain you and your new partner have solid self-esteem
“Warning signs that you are not prepared for a relationship, include a tendency to want to rescue other people from their negative feelings, and the tendency to blame others for your own feelings,” he said.
5. Consider how much you have in common with a new potential partner.
“When the infatuation wears off, that’s why second marriages have a higher likelihood of divorce in the first place,” Burckhard said.
6. Take care of yourself — a sign you can take care of a relationship.
When you stop eating right or exercising, these are signs of a potential problem, according to Burckhard. “…if you go into a relationship with another human being, it’s going to be a disaster, because he will look to her to meet those needs… He will look to her for value of himself. for praise and approval, for validation of what he thinks he feels. If she doesn’t give it to him the way he wants, he will begin to feel unloved, and he will either withdraw and sulk on his passive side, or he’ll go to his aggressive side and become critical and controlling. This is why the next relationship will begin to deteriorate.”
7. No one can tell you you’re ready to date.
“Only you know”, Novak said.”I don’t think there’s a magic time line. Basically, whenever you’re done grieving the previous relationship, and that’s gonna look different for everybody,” she said. “You have to go through the regular grieving process as if you lost a grandparent or parent. You’re gonna go through anger, sadness, acceptance. You need to make sure there’s no harbored feelings and that you’re not going to meet someone new and treat them like the old person,” says Novak.
About the author: Krystle Russin is a freelance journalist in Austin, Texas. She has been involved in journalism for seven years, hosting a PBS show and contributing to different print and online publications. She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in government (pre-law), and minors in journalism and history.